Being a fan of The Walking Dead isn’t always easy. Just when you’ve started to like a character, they have a tendency to get eaten alive, brutally murdered, or a bit of both. Nobody is safe – not even CGI tigers!
The constant threat of sudden bereavement isn’t the only reason why following The Walking Dead can sometimes be difficult, either. This isn’t the forum in which to discuss when the show went off the rails, or whether it has returned to them, but both questions could spark hefty debates between fans. Slowly paced character-driven episodes, changes behind the scenes, and controversial deaths have all been divisive among the TWD’s fervent fandom. Disagreement is an omnipresent as death.
In the midst of all this mayhem, one theme park has risen up to remind us of why we fell in love with The Walking Dead in the first place. Surrey’s Thorpe Park resort has just launched The Walking Dead: The Ride, the first rollercoaster on the planet to be themed around AMC’s blood-splattered series. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, there are several reasons why you need to check this out…
At a swanky preview event with such snazzy guests as Johnny Vegas, Kerry Katona and some smelly bloke from Den Of Geek, we had an early go on The Walking Dead: The Ride. After sampling the buffet in the main dome (would recommend) and waiting for the rain to die down (definitely bring a waterproof), we headed out into the park and went straight to a newly rebranded area, ‘The Thorpe Park Safe Zone.’
It was immediately clear that the pyramid-shaped structure once known as X: No Way Out has been given a massive makeover. What was once an unremarkable building not worth stopping for is now a homage to some of the most iconic locations from AMC’s zombie drama: the prison from seasons 3/4 and the cannibal hotspot of Terminus from seasons 4/5 have had a bastard love child, and it’s been plonked in eye-catching fashion in the middle of the Thorpe Park map.
While you queue for your go on The Walking Dead: The Ride, there are plentiful Easter Eggs to spot as a way to pass the time. Iconic quotes from the show, and even parps of that unforgettable theme tune dominate the area and make this queue pass in a flash. The commitment to the Walking Dead brand is truly impressive, and on the preview night there were even zombie actors perusing the queues and scaring the punters (as well as stopping for selfies). It’s unclear if you’ll get this treatment on normal days at the park, but it was still a nice touch.
As you get closer to the ride, the immersion gets even more intense. As is becoming increasingly common in new theme park rides, there is a little video to watch just before you sit down, which attempts to get you even more pumped. Before you buckle in for The Walking Dead: The Ride, an on-screen actor (not one from the series itself) will get you in the mood using familiar dialogue and a few frights. It’s all good fun.
Then comes the ride itself. Although the core structure of the rollercoaster hasn’t changed since the pyramid’s X: No Way Out days, everything else has been upgraded. There are more videos on screens, zombies that jump out at you, a steaming vent or two, and even some impressive audio additions. As is surely the intended effect, there were plenty of screams as our carriage worked its way around.
As a whole experience, The Walking Dead: The Ride feels like a tailor-made treat for fans of Rick Grimes’ televised adventures. From the queue to the pre-ride video and onto the rollercoaster itself, it’s clear that a lot of care (and a fair bit of spend) has gone into making this a horror haven for TWD aficionados. And at the end of it all, there’s a decent stack of merch to temp your wallet out.
Horrifying rides aplenty
Over the last few years, Thorpe Park has been developing into a real hot spot for horror fans. Once you’ve checked out The Walking Dead: The Ride and got that theme tune firmly lodged in your cranium, there are so many other scream fests to try out.
For example, Saw: The Ride is an absolutely joy – in the scariest possible way – for fans of the franchise that inspired it. Tobin Bell himself would surely be proud of the creepy puppet vids, visceral water features and movie Easter Eggs littered around the ride and its queue area. Saw’s rollercoaster is genuinely scary, as well, with a beyond vertical drop that will pull your stomach out through your mouth. Great times.
After you’ve hit up Saw: The Ride and The Walking Dead: The Ride, you can also try out the gut-shredding drop of Detonator, the impossibly loopy corkscrews of Colossus and the fiery fun of Nemesis: Inferno. There’s also a relatively new rollercoaster named The Swarm, which has a very pleasant apocalyptic disaster vibe to it.
At the preview night for The Walking Dead: The Ride, we also got to have a go on Derren Brown’s Ghost Train, which blends virtual reality and some subversive scares to create a really unique experience. We’re sworn to secrecy on the specifics, but suffice to say that horror fans will find plenty to enjoy.
As if it wasn’t enough to have two geek-friendly branded attractions and a whole host of other scary rides, the brains behind Thorpe Park have also arranged a series of exciting events to entertain its visitors over the next few months.
In another bid to lure in fans of The Walking Dead, there is a special live action maze running from May 25th to June 3rd. It was a totally chill, very low-key name – The Walking Dead: Living Nightmare Extreme.
And if you fancy mincing your nerves in a woodland area on the outskirts of the park, you’ll want to try out the Zombie Hunts. This is described as ‘an extreme battle for survival’, and will be conducted over the summer period: from July 21st to September 3rd, which, admittedly, is an optimistically long ‘summer period’ by British standards.
Between July 26th and September 1st, the park will also be open until 10pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays: it’s not quite the witching hour, but sticking around after twilight should make it dark enough to add an extra eerie air to proceedings. Mathematically speaking, you’ll probably able to get on more rides as well (unless you get stuck at the buffet).
Also, from the 5th to 31st of October, Thorpe Park’s annual Fright Nights will be returning, in all their gory glory. Having been to a few of these over the last few years, I can assure you that the horror mazes, exclusive experiences, costumed punters and late opening times will add up to a really thrilling experience. And with the added awesomeness of The Walking Dead: The Ride, this year’s Fright Night’s will be even better their predecessors.
Eerily good offers!
Just before we go, it’s probably worth mentioning the outrageous offer that Thorpe Park is running at the moment: you can pay for a day, at a price of £49, and come back for a full year at no extra cost. Having lived near Thorpe Park for most of my life, I can honestly say that this is an outrageously good deal. I’ve paid that much for just one visit in the past!
Fans of AMC’s zombie spectacular will thoroughly enjoy the Easter Eggs and the thrill factor of this new TWD attraction, as well as feeling the fun on all the other yelp-inducing rides on offer. And due to those outrageous prices, you can come back multiple times and satisfy your horror fix on numerous occasions, without breaking the bank.
If you need a bit more convincing that Thorpe Park is well worth a visit, head over to its website for loads more info. Being a fan of The Walking Dead may not always be easy, but it couldn’t be less difficult to have an awesome day at this horror-stuffed theme park…